Those who arrive early for the star party scheduled Saturday night at Stansbury Park are in for a treat: a tour of the new observatory under construction there.
Once the building is complete, probably early next year, it will house the largest telescopes in Utah, says Patrick Wiggins of Hansen Planetarium. The star party, which begins around dusk, will be hosted by the Salt Lake Astronomical Society and the planetarium.
"We're sure to spend a lot of telescope time observing Mars, since it's so bright," Wiggins said. "But there are galaxies, nebulae and star clusters galore up there, so we'll be sure to have a look at many of those as well."
Mars, the misnamed red planet (it's actually more like orange) has been at one of its closest approaches to Earth recently, although Earth is beginning to pull away in its orbit.
The star party will be held near the north end of Stansbury Park at 8 p.m.
Wiggins gave these directions for anyone driving from Salt Lake City: take Interstate 80 west from the capital city to exit 99, the Stansbury/Tooele exit. Then drive south to Stansbury Park and the observatory.
For further information, call the planetarium's Starline Information Service at 532-STAR or visit planet.state.ut. us/slas/2001parties.HTML.